Many people feel good to love and be loved, and they genuinely contribute in all forms, especially monetary, in hopes of having a meaningful result.
Human beings are complicated and hard to trust- the question that arises is how can one protect their interests against the other in the event there is a twist of circumstances before legalising the marriage and even so, if there is no express agreement on how the monies contributed during that period will be handled.
The position of the law has been settled. Unmarried or cohabitants have no right to recover money made or contributed in such a relationship unless it is jointly owned by registration or joint bank account or other ownership which infers clear joint ownership.
The high court of Uganda at Kampala yesterday, in the case of Fredman Bigala V Lorlah Namuwenge Civil Suit No.98 of 2020, while holding that unmarried/cohabitants cannot recover monies contributed unless there is clarity of ownership, observed the following:
1. Without a formal agreement, such a “bedroom” agreement should not be enforced in law as the courts cannot be seen lending a hand to the plaintiff trying to take revenge because of a failed relationship to recover money given during a relationship without clear consideration.
2. Unmarried or cohabitants have no right of recovery to money made or contributed in such a relationship unless jointly owned by registration, bank account or such other joint ownership.
3. Concubinage or meretricious cohabitation” affords neither party any right to recover for services…unless the couple mistakenly believed they were married or under duress.
The court further observed, citing a plethora of Ugandan case law on the subject matter, that for a judgement to be entered on the ground of admission under Order 13 Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Rules S.I71-1, the judgment on admission must be explicit and not open to doubt. the circumstances in the case before the court were marred with doubts since the plaintiff did not show the purposes of the funds though the defendant admitted to having received the same.
In the Obiter, the court encouraged unmarried couples to draft agreements expressing their understanding of or expectations about exchanges of economic value in their relationship; consideration of the economics of their relationship should be paramount when their relationship begins because this will aid in the justiciability of the dispute when it arises.
The author Simon Nyakoojo is a Senior Legal Writer and Co-Founder at The Judicial Sound Exponent. If you think we can improve this article, please email us at [email protected], Twitter @soundexponent, Linkedln;The Judicial Sound Exponent.